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Governor holds the line against changes in state DUI laws

On March 23, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have substantially changed current drunk driving punishments. At issue with the proposed legislation were a few provisions aimed at requiring even first-time offenders of the state's DUI laws to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. The proposed bill, A1368, would also reduce the length of time for mandatory license suspensions with regards to first-time DUI offenders. The vetoed bill would have cut those suspensions from three months down to 10 days.

Proponents of the bill argued that ignition interlock device requirements are currently only enforced against repeat offenders or those drivers who were tested with exceptionally high blood alcohol concentration levels. Gov. Christie noted that his veto of the legislation is conditional. The governor wants legislators to keep the provision in their bill requiring first-time offenders to install ignition interlock devices, in addition to maintaining the current mandatory license suspension timeframe of three months. However, the Governor would lengthen amount of time some offenders would be required to maintain interlock devices and wait for license reinstatement.

One of the bills primary sponsors, state Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), offered a dissenting view of the governor's veto. Senator Scutari said that the proposed legislation was geared toward affording judges more leeway when determining their cases. The senator also indicated that the reduction in mandatory license suspensions would allow offenders the opportunity to return to work.

The legislation is currently stalled until such time as the governor's changes are included in the bill and both houses of the state Legislature ratifies it. At least one state Senator has thus far indicated his reluctance to amend the proposed legislation, citing the importance of judicial discretion when determining the outcomes of DUI cases.

If you are a victim of a DUI offender, then you are likely to favor of harsher drinking and driving penalties. Unfortunately, whatever happens to current DUI laws, the fact remains that no amount of legislation is going to pay your medical expenses or the time that you may have missed from work because of your injuries. Thankfully, New Jersey laws allow victims of drunk driving accidents to sue those drivers for compensation. A consultation with a drunk driving car accident attorney can help you to evaluate the facts of your case and determine whether you should move forward with your personal injury lawsuit.

Source: True Jersey, "Attempt to change N.J.'s drunken driving law hits roadblock at Christie's desk," Matt Freidman, March. 23, 2015

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